The two trendsetters in the Premier League thus far are scheduled to square up to each other in the first Manchester derby of the season in which will probably be the highlight match of the League this year. Ever since the new era begun at the Etihad, things have drastically evened out footballing-wise on the pitch. Manchester City do not come into the derby as the overwhelming underdog hoping to sneak a goal and cause an upset on their best day. It is more of an even battle with both the teams vying for the top-most honours domestically and internationally. And with Manchester United losing out on the Champions League spot twice in a matter of years, they would be desperate to come out all guns blazing this time around. Add to that the renewed rivalry of Jose Mourinho and Pep Guardiola thrown into the mix, the stakes couldn’t get any higher.
But as we close in on the derby, both set of managers have pressing issues to deal with. We take a brief look into Valencia’s touch and go situation for the derby.
Antonio Valencia has been a revelation thus far in the season and has been an integral cog in their machinery while going forward and has been assured tracking back but he is rated as a doubt for the derby with the player scheduled to return to Manchester on Friday afternoon. Mourinho is traditionally known to be averse to taking risks regarding his player’s fitness which puts his participation in doubt.
With available options in Fosu-Mensah and Phil Jones, it an area Pep would look to exploit and incidentally City’s best moves have come down that left-hand side. In most matches, David Silva and Nolito have combined brilliantly and have repeatedly managed to carve the defence open. The duo will be returning after ominous individual performances for La Roja and will be full of confidence come Saturday.
Nolito’s direct approach and his ability to take up goal scoring positions as well has been a pain in the neck for defenders so far and Saturday promises to be no different. With Mata ahead of whoever will be selected at right-back, City should look to employ Gael Clichy’s pace and the likes of Nolito/Sterling to effect damage.
Even if Manchester United take a gamble on Valencia, with no offence to the other teams, he has rarely been tested thus far against the likes of Bournemouth and Hull. Pep Guardiola along with his buzzing troops will come at full throttle and the new look defense will have a lot on their plate for the first time this season.
But Manchester City fans will be hoping they are not left cursing their own luck at the end of the match with the banned Aguero not there to finish off the chances.